By Patty Carulli
How many times have people said, “Where does the time go?” and “Enjoy the moment because time flies.” Now I find it is true!
My oldest daughter turned 18 years old last week. This has been a momentous event for me. She is now considered an adult, and I am older than I would like to admit. Mostly, I find that I am reflective about the past 18 years and the journey to this point. All of the difficult decisions I made without really being sure they were the right ones pass though my mind. Often, as parents we are “winging it” and hope and pray we get the desired results. Then you wait and hope you will have an “Aha! Moment” that tells you “Hey good job! You did the right thing.” This is that moment for me.
I am grateful and proud of my daughter, she is ready to fly and I am ready to let her go.
How did we get here? I let her fail plenty. I tried not always to give her the answers or fix her problems to some of the most challenging situations, even when intervening to make everything tidy and comfortable would have been easy. It was not easy and still is not today. My daughter is a quiet and reflective person by nature. Confrontations or attention seeking is not easy for her. Standing up to peers, coworkers, and even teachers when needed was and still is terrifying. I encouraged her to fix her problems and try to work on solutions. If the situation was at a crossroad, she had to keep trying while being respectful. She grew to know I was there in the background, if needed, but not to approach me until she had tried to work on solutions independently and diplomatically.
I wanted her to find her voice and be able to express herself. I also wanted her to accept outcomes that may be disappointing and less than ideal. Life is unpredictable and definitely not perfect.
The rewards are worth it. If you let your children fail, they will get up and try again. The confidence that blooms from this acquired independence is greater than any fixed grade, friend made to apologize, or acceptance into a program. I am not saying I am not needed or that I don’t share my opinions. However, as she plans her future and waits for her college life to begin, I am not worried about her self-confidence or strength of character. I find other things to worry about.
For now I am grateful and in awe of this person who has grown up before my eyes.
Yes…I am grateful I let her fail. This is my “Aha moment”.